Best Practices for Corporate Twittering

Many companies want to start using Twitter to promote their brand and business, but don’t really know where to start.  As most companies are starting to realize, Twitter is a great way to reinforce your brand, share news and important information, gather feedback , advertise and most importantly, start a dialogue with your customers and prospects – and the only cost is the time of the people involved with managing the Twitter feed.

Here is a short list of best practices for corporate Twittering that I compiled for one of my clients.  Most small-to-medium businesses should be able to achieve results with a couple of hours of effort per week.

Getting Started

  • Pick a Twitter name that matches your company name or alternatively a name that includes your company name such as @companyteam
  • Build up a level of tweets so other users will see you as credible and relevant – the minimum number of tweets that you should accumulate before you start promoting your account is somewhere in the 50 to 100 range  (most users will ignore you if you have few tweets or haven’t been tweeting for very long)
  • Fill out your profile completely including a URL as most people will not follow anyone with an incomplete profile
  • Create a customized Twitter homepage (that matches your corporate brand as much as possible) to provide additional information about your company and products

Getting your message out

  • Try to tweet 5 to 8 times per day, and you should space them out throughout the day if possible
  • Only 20% or so of your tweets should be related to your company or include a marketing or ‘advertising’ message – the others should be tweets about related topics that provide value to your followers or show a more human side of your company; people will stop paying attention to you if you use Twitter exclusively for self-promotion
  • Most of your tweets should contain a link to a website, blog post, article, etc. – these  are the types of tweets will establish your Twitter account as being a source of great content and worthy of being followed back
  • Use HootSuite‘s to schedule your tweets and to track your tweet clickthrus and their Hootlet app to easily tweet the URLs of content at the source – Hootsuite also lets you include multiple users on the same account which can help to spread out the Twitter workload

Following people

  • Use one or more of the Twitter directories (WeFollow or Twellow) to locate potential users to follow based on their interests and geography
  • Follow anyone who mentions your company or keywords that important for your business
  • Periodically do a Twitter search on your company name or click on @yourname from right panel to see who is re-tweeting you or mentioning your name
  • @reply people to thank people or to just reach out to them
  • RT or re-tweet posts that you think are worthy – generally these people will notice and start following you
  • You don’t want to grow your Twitter following too quickly – steady growth is better and a goal of growing 100 to 200 per month is a good start for most businesses

And finally as noted in The Guide to Corporate Twittering, you should:

  • Be honest
  • Be responsive and human
  • Be nice

What Are the Characteristics of a Great Community Manager

The Community Roundtable and introNetworks hosted a live chat that covered this topic today.

Webchat Participants

Webchat Participants

The speakers included the following:

There was tremendous activity on Twitter during the call and you can find this thread by searching on the #introchat tag.  Some of the more interesting tweets included:

  • @keithburtis title means little, substance is everything…. need to link Social Indicators back to Boardroom speak
  • @eyecube Care for a community, don’t *manage* it
  • @maddiegrant The best community managers are people who care about people
  • @MsMizz As community manager, ur looking for ur “cheese heads” the ones that are so engaged & passionate that they’ll put a cheese hat on
  • @mrshasten Importance of a community manager: it’s like weeding the garden. You can’t just set up a community and neglect it
  • @JohnMLee Great point from the Community Manager Webinar: Communities don’t want to be managed, they need to be nurtured
  • @P_Lussier Community mgrs need to be “accessible & approachable; intensely human,” says @ambercadabra
  • @SocialGeekMe being a community manager is not a “this is not my job” type of job.
  • @spoonmovement #introchat@ambercadabra says that being a community manager is “not for the faint of heart” and that it’s a hybrid of many disciplines
  • @AdrianMabry Comm Mgr role follows 2 analogies – the ‘iceberg’ and the ‘duck’ analogies. Lot’s of activity that just isn’t glamorous

Several great links were discussed during the chat as well:

Jim solicited book recommendations at the end of the call from each of the participants and here is the short list:

The recording of the chat is available at the introNetworks website and the slides are on Slideshare too.

How Are People Really Using Twitter?

Pear Analytics released their study of Twitter usage this month and it had some interesting surprises.  To conduct the study, they randomly sampled 2000 Tweets over the course of a 10 days between the hours of 11am and 5pm.  Their original hypotheses was that Twitter was being used primarily for self-promotion.

What the results actually showed was that the majority of tweets were totally pointless babble (41%) followed closely by total conversational (38%).  I knew that I see a lot of totally pointless babble in my Twitter feed, but the beauty of Twitter is that it makes it easy to scan and filter out the nonsense.

I am surprised that the News and Pass Along value are so low.

Excerpt from Pear Analytics Twitter Study

Excerpt from Pear Analytics Twitter Study

Pear also analyzed the Twitter usage by day of week and time of day.  For example, most re-tweets occurred on Mondays and a higher percentage of Pass Along tweets occurred early in the day.

Of course, individuals may get different results based on strictly you screen new followers or how rigorous you are in pruning out Twitter ‘deadwood’.  For example, I generally don’t follow anyone with less than 100 tweets or who do not include a link in their profile.  This keeps my noise level down even with over 1,000 followers.  Because of my self-filtering, my spam total is also fairly low.

It would be interesting to see Pear conduct this survey again or to have it verified by another research study.  But for now, it’s the best analysis out there.

The Pear study also provided these Twitter statistics from Quantcast from June 2009:

  • Twitter reaches 27 million people per month in the U.S.
  • 55% are female
  • 43% are between 18 and 34
  • 78% Caucasian, but African American users are 35% above Internet average
  • Average household income is between $30 and $60k
  • 1% of the addicts contribute 35% of the visits
  • 72% are passers‐by, while only 27% are regular users

You can download the entire Pear Analytics Twitter study from this link.